Beware of Fakes

Any antique or collectible buyer has probably, at one time or another, purchased something only to find out later it was a reproduction or had been misrepresented. Some repops (reproductions) are obvious fakes while others can appear to the casual buyer to be the genuine thing. Many auctioneers will identify a repop while others are quite content to let the buyer believe they are getting the genuine article. I have found most to be honest in this matter, but I have seen a few pass off a fake as the real deal. If I know or even suspect something is not genuine I will call it out before selling it.

Someone once told me if an item is worth over $50.00 someone will probably reproduce it. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I’ve seen a lot of repops go across  auction blocks. What can the buyer do to avoid purchasing these items?

The first thing is to educate yourself. Chances are if the buyer is a collector there are only a few things he or she is really interested in. Spend time learning how to identify fakes in your areas of interest. There are many pages on the Internet to help you learn how to detect fakes and repops. Guidebooks in the area of your interests often have information and pictures in the back  of the book to help you identify fake pieces.

Talk to people who share some of your interests to see what they’ve learned about identifying fake pieces. My daughter called me last week about some items she was interested in purchasing. These items are highly reproduced. I told her a couple of things to check to know for sure if they were repops. I certainly don’t know everything about anything, but in this case I did know a couple of things to check.

Use common sense. Antiques were not manufactured to be antiques. They were made to be used. If you see an antique that looks like it just came out of a box, it probably did, and it’s probably not an antique. There are the rare exception, but most antiques should show signs of use. There are things people can do to make a new reproduction appear to be older and used, but a careful examination of the piece should identify that attempt.

Have an idea of what something is worth. Everyone who goes to auctions is hoping to get good deals on their purchases, but if something is going really cheap it might mean other people know something you don’t. I’ve passed up some apparently good buys at auctions because it was just going too cheap. It made me nervous. Usually, these are items I don’t normally buy and do not have a good idea of their worth. When such items are going for far less than I guess they should bring I stay away from them. I’ve probably missed some good deals with that strategy, but I probably also avoided a lot of regrets.

Not every reproduction is a bad thing. Sometimes, an item is reproduced because it is a desirable piece. There’s no effort to deceive anyone. The labeling or packaging may even identify it as a reproduction.  In some cases, a reproduction can still be a valuable and collectible item. However, it won’t be as valuable as the original nor does it attempt to be.

The old adage is true: Let the buyer beware. Educate yourself on the items you are most interesting in collecting or buying so you can identify repops and fakes. Look the items over carefully. Know your seller and only deal with sellers and auctioneers who demonstrate integrity in what they do. If you’ll do these three things you’ll avoid most buying mistakes.

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